Megillah 14: Whipped Into Shape

July 30, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Often it takes our enemies to whip us into shape. “Rav Abba the son of Kahana said: Greater was the removal of the ring [of Achashverosh] than the 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses[1] who prophesied for Israel, for all of them did not return them to good, yet the removal of the ring returned them to good” (Megillah 14a). Moshe, Aaron, Miriam, Yishayahu, Yirmiyahu, Michah, Yonah, and many others all tried to get the Jewish people to...
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Megillah 6: Try Harder

July 25, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
When one makes a siyum to mark the completion of a tractate of Talmud, we recite the beautiful words of the hadran[1], that "we toil and they toil; we toil and receive a reward, and they toil and do not receive a reward". Whereas, in the secular world, it is the bottom line that counts—no one cares how hard you work if the results are great—in the spiritual world, it is effort, not result...
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Megillah 4: Active Defence

July 19, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Rav Yehoshua ben Levi said, women are obligated in the reading of the Megillah she'af hen, because they, too, were included in the miracle" (Megillah 4a). If not for this teaching, one would have assumed that women would be exempt from the mitzvah of Megillah, being that it is a time-bound, positive mitzvah which women are generally exempt from[1]. Tosafot (s.v. she'af) quotes a debate as to the...
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Megillah 3: What Comes First

July 17, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"These days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed" (Esther 9:28). In a rather astonishing teaching, Rabbi Yossi the son of Chaninah explains that the expression "all families" teaches that even "the families of priests and Levites desist from...
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Megillah 2: Breaking the Walls

July 14, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The first daf (page) of Masechet Megillah focuses on the distinction between open and walled cites, regarding the timing of the reading of the Megillah. While one might have argued that, almost by definition, whatever is outside of a walled city cannot be part of the city protected with a wall, the Gemara quotes the view of Rav Yehoshua ben Levi—without quoting a dissenting view—that "a walled city and all...
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